Greyhounds are great, but most folk get on better with a border collie
Photos by Chris Dickinson
DESPITE THE DOMINATOR name, Norton’s first stab at a sporting twin didn’t exactly rule the postwar world.
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Designer Bert Hopwood built a bike that was rather more robust than the sparkling Triumph speedsters, but which had little in common with Norton’s glorious prewar sporting singles.
An all-new 500cc twin from the marque with 21 TT wins to its credit was expected to be exceptional – and instead the new Dominator was merely proficient, reliable, well-made and mannerly.
Consequently, the Model 7 was damned by faint praise. It “had a disappointing performance” according to marque historian Mick Woollett. “It was fast but lacked the mid-range torque that the other twins had… It was no match for the already well-established Triumph Tiger 100. The Norton was overweight at 440lb – no less than 50lb heavier than the Triumph 500 twins!”
Some of that extra mass came from the Model 7’s plunger suspension, which offered a little more comfort and better roadholding than Triumph’s primitive sprung hub arrangement. Even so, the new Dominator’s bend-swinging abilities didn’t live up to the marque’s ‘unapproachable’ competition credentials, as trials rider Don Morley explained: “The roadholding and handling of these bikes, frankly, were anything but good, not least because they shared exactly the same running gear as the equally-poor-steering single cylinder job… this bike’s handling left a lot to be desired.”
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